BRUMBY’S WATER PROJECTS UNJUSTIFIED
Stephanie Ryan - Thursday, September 16, 2010
HOUSEHOLDS PAYING BILLIONS BECAUSE OF LABOR’S INCOMPETENCE
Victorian families are paying billions of dollars to fund extravagant water projects that were never needed, Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development Peter Ryan said today.
Mr Ryan said with recent rains pushing Melbourne’s storages over 45 per cent, John Brumby’s major water projects had had a negligible impact on Melbourne’s water supplies.
“Melbourne never needed the world’s largest desalination plant at a cost now estimated by the Auditor-General at $5.7 billion or a $750 million pipeline,” Mr Ryan said.
“While the state’s dams fill, these extravagant and unnecessary projects are costing families billions of dollars.
“In Question Time today John Brumby conceded that he has signed water consumers up to pay the consortium building the desalination plant an annual security payment, irrespective of whether the plant delivers water.
The Premier’s concession confirms AquaSure chairwoman Chloe Munro’s statement before a parliamentary committee that the payment ‘recognises that the plant is being maintained to be in a condition capable of delivering water at any time’.
“The north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant were a kneejerk reaction from a panicked government,” Mr Ryan said.
“Melbourne’s water crisis was created by years of inaction and the government’s failure to take responsible, long-term action to secure the city’s water supplies.”
Mr Ryan said in an effort to prove the wisdom of committing $750 million of taxpayers’ money without proper costings or a business case, John Brumby now claimed the north-south pipeline was vital to boosting Melbourne’s water supplies and reducing water restrictions.
“John Brumby’s claim that the pipeline is helping Victorians is blatantly untrue,” Mr Ryan said.
“Melbourne’s storages are at 45.4 per cent and are holding 277 billion litres more than they were the same time last year.
“The vast majority of that water is the result of improved rainfall. The total amount of water delivered by the north-south pipeline since it opened seven months ago is just 23.5 billion litres.”
Mr Ryan said John Brumby had deliberately distorted the facts to justify the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
“The former secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) admitted to the Auditor-General that the government created the need to invest in these projects by using selective data,” Mr Ryan said.
“He admitted that the need to invest in the north-south pipeline would not have been established if the government had used figures collected over a longer and more representative period of time.
“The government is now desperate to make Victorians believe the pipeline is responsible for the easing of water restrictions because it doesn’t want voters to know it wasted $750 million on a monumental white elephant.”
Mr Ryan said water customers would not be picking up the tab for unnecessary projects if John Brumby had made a sensible, long-term investment in stormwater capture and recycling projects to secure Melbourne’s water supplies.
“Water users are paying nearly 90 per cent of the cost of John Brumby’s unnecessary water infrastructure projects,” Mr Ryan said.
“By July 2012, water costs for the average household in Yarra Valley Water’s region will have increased by 79.3 per cent in just four years to help pay for the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
“Water bills for South East Water and City West Water customers will also rise by more than 65 per cent over the next four years.
“The majority of water bills are made up of fixed charges rather than consumption charges, locking water users into paying huge bills irrespective of their efforts to reduce water usage.
“While our dams steadily fill and parts of the state are submerged by flood waters, John Brumby is forcing families to pay for these costly and unnecessary projects,” Mr Ryan said.